On the 1 February 1939 exactly 139 young males entered the doors of Newcastle Technical High for the first time, which was located at Tighes Hill on the site of the current TAFE Campus.
Led by headmaster P.G. Price, the school offered mathematics, science, english, history, German, woodwork and metalwork for its young male cohort. As the school’s student numbers increased, so did the subjects offered.
At the start of the 1950s the Technical High vacated its Tighes Hill site to relocate to Chatham Street, Broadmeadow - where it continued as Tech High until 1977. In 1977 it amalgamated with Cooks Hill Girls High School and became Merewether High School - a comprehensive co-educational high school, which drew students from the suburbs of Carrington, Wickham, Hamilton and Merewether.
A building program began just before the merger, with new blocks (A–D) being constructed, and blocks F–G being added later. The school included an industrial arts block (now the covered outdoor learning area or COLA), K Block (the library), two bike sheds (since removed) and a canteen (since rebuilt). L block was added in the 1960s.
Many buildings sustained severe damage in the 1989 Earthquake, but were repaired thereafter. Another more recent event that affected the school was the floods of June 2007, which toppled trees and required the replacement of carpets in some blocks' lower floors e.g. K block, The Library.
The final principals of both schools are memorialised in the naming of the Bensley Hall and the Foley Library on the present campus.
Since 1989 enrolment is determined by an academic selection process. The school has a planned capacity of 1,080 students, 180 for each year from Year 7 to Year 12. It first reached its enrolment capacity across all years in 2005.
Suburb of Broadmeadow
Broadmeadow was originally part of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve of 648 hectares. It developed around the Great Northern Railway, the road to Newcastle's western suburbs and the construction of the Sydney to Newcastle Railway in the 1880s.
Nineways is a major intersection at Broadmeadow, originally constructed as a landscaped garden in the centre of a roundabout at the intersection of nine roads/tramlines that converge there, the area was later reconstructed to have a set of traffic lights connected to only four roads - the other roads were variously partly or fully closed off.
At Nineways stood the Century Theatre, rebuilt by Hoyts Theatres after World War II, with vast foyers on two floors and seating 1600, as one of Newcastle's premier theatres for stage and screen.
It was often a venue for symphony orchestra concerts after the closure of the city's Victoria Theatre, but the exodus from cinemas because of television caused its closure in the early 1970s. It was said to have sustained severe structural damage during the 1989 earthquake, and was subsequently quickly demolished, amidst great controversy.
Suburb of Merewether
In 1835 Dr James Mitchell made application to purchase land of about 900 acres south of Newcastle. later additions to this grant was made by purchase A. W. Scott's grant to the east. The area was named Burwood estate.
Dr Mitchell's eldest daughter married Edward Christopher Merewether who had arrived in Newcastle as the General Superintendent of the A.A. Co.. They built and lived in The Ridge and the area changed names from Burwood, to Merewether.
Burwood estate was divided into a number of townships. East of Watkins street was "The Pottery", The Junction remains, to the west was Burwood then further west was the Glebe. Another area, The Racecourse was adjacent to Frederick street near Dixon Park.
Merewether Council was incorporated in 1885. The first mayor was F. Kempster. By the 1930's Merewether had an area of 1,114 acres and a population of 8,653. Council chambers were located in Llewellyn street.
Building in the area was held up by bank lending restrictions as a result of possible mine subsidence. Consequently development in the suburb did not take off until the passing of the Mine Subsidence act in 1929 which gave assurances as to incidents involving damage caused through mine subsidence.
Early industries were few, the area was almost exclusively devoted to coal mining, but there were a number of potteries notably those belonging to Hughes and Drury, Welhams and Bowtell. Bowtell's pit was bounded by Hickson, Margaret and Morgan streets and was 90 feet (30m) deep.
By 1877 there were seven brickworks operating but by 1977 only one survived near the Junction School. A copper smelting works operated at Burwood (Glenrock lagoon) during the 1830's and closed down in 1862.
The Newcastle Coal Mining Co amongst many others were large coal miners in the area. The Scottish Australain Mining Company later took over the burwood mines.
The early water supply was provided through wells or springs. Offen during dry weather the many creeks in the area would dry up and those without wells would travel to the Wallaby Well (near Beaumont St and Glebe Rd). Washing was often done there too.
Burwood beach was known as the Gulf.
The first ocean baths at Merewether were built in 1926, partly in reaction to the sewerage coming from the gulf. In 1928 construction work on the existing baths was begun. The remains of the first small baths are still used slightly to the north. Dixon Park was named after Jonathon Dixon who bored for coal in murdering gulley in 1863.
Compared to other municipalities the development of Merewether was slow - the first gas streetlights appeared in 1911 and electricity wasn't introduced until November 1928.
The suburb of Merewether is named after Edward Christopher Merewether, who began his working life in Australia as aide-de-camp to three Governors of New South Wales between 1842 and 1861. He was appointed Superintendent of the Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) in Newcastle in 1861 and was a significant landowner and benefactor. The school's E.C. Merewether Award for Creative Endeavour and the shield, which adorns the school's front foyer, were inaugurated in honour of Merewether.